By Gerard Lombardo – @getoffatkenmore
Allen Craig couldn’t hit water if he fell off a boat. So when the division is wrapped up, which it can be if Boston manages a sweep of the Yankees, we won’t see his name penciled in Manager John’s line up card for a pity start at any point of September. But Pawtucket has a surplus of bats and arms that are ready to contribute as the Sox make a push for the American League’s top record. Here are some names:
Bryce Brentz – Leading Pawtucket in batting average, RBI, runs scored, OPS, as well as the International League with Home Runs, and placing 3rd in slugging. He has very limited time in the majors, and is already 28. Brentz would be be able to spell Hanley, Mookie and Beni. If Hanley happens to be in the mood for first base, that’ll give Moreland a chance at a day off. Since he’s been able to get added rest in the second half, he’s put himself within arms reach of .260/25/80.
Carson Smith – As long as he’s healthy, Smith should be among the first call ups. Boston gave up Wade Miley for this guy, which has come back to bite them as he’s owned them in 2017 with a 2.50 ERA, winning both starts against the Sox. With Workman coming back strong, and Addison Reed starting to deliver, Smith could be another asset to a bullpen that’s been a huge improvement from 2016.
Rusney Castillo: – Since Rusney’s family arrived from Cuba this past offseason, he’s looking more like the player Boston signed to a $72.5 million contract. Trailing only Brentz and Devers in almost all offensive categories, he’s also leading The Pawsox with 14 stolen bases in just 16 attempts. No excuse for Farrell to be going to a four man bench at this stage of the season.
David Price: – Talks of sending Price to the bullpen for the stretch run and postseason might be the best thing for both sides. The rotation has been solid with Sale, Pomeranz, Porcello, Rodriguez and Fister, which will shorten to four in the playoffs. If Price can pitch well, maybe Sox Nation can move on from his nearly two full seasons of drama.
Deven Marrero – The unlikely but solid replacement for Sandoval. Boston treaded water for a while at third base until the unlikely hero Eduardo Nunez arrived in what was called a “depth move” by local and national analysts. He has used his highlight reel defense to prove his defense can win games too.
With Jackie Bradley set to return Saturday, and Dustin Pedroia just around the corner, the Red Sox will have what’s considered a good problem to have: having too much talent. Blake Swihart is catching again in Pawtucket, and would make a great third catcher. There will be extra inning games where you’ll want to pinch hit for either Christian or Leon, so this gives him a chance to feature his bat and athleticism.
There will be others, but that group plus Hector Velazquez (2.23 ERA in AAA), this will give the Red Sox depth in starting pitching, the bullpen, and every fielding position. It would be more ammo against a Yankee team that could be missing a combination of Betances, Sanchez and Romine to suspension during the four game series as the Sox look to put the final nail in the coffin by extending the AL East lead to as far as 9.5 games.